Hospital stays of less than one day - same day separations - are now almost half (46%) of all hospital separations, and have increased by 52% since 1993-94 according to Australian hospital statistics 1997-98, to be released on 30 June by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The average length of stay in hospital also continues to decline: from 4.6 days in 1993-94 to 4.1 days in 1997-98.
Report co-author, Ms Jenny Hargreaves, said that with shorter stays more patients are going through hospitals. Between 1996-97 and 1997-98 separations from public acute hospitals increased by 3% and from private hospitals by 6%. Nearly a third of overall patient separations were from private hospitals.
Conditions relating to the five national health priority areas - cardiovascular health, cancer control, injury prevention and control, mental health, and diabetes - made up 41% of total patient days in 1997-98, representing more than 9 million patient days.
Australian hospital statistics 1997-98 also looks at public hospital expenditure. The reports co-author, Dr Janis Shaw said that $13 billion was spent on hospital services in 1997-98, representing a real increase in spending of 5% (expenditure in 1996-97 was $12.2 billion).
Other findings in Australian hospital statistics 1997-98 include:
One bed was available for every 332 Australians, ranging from one bed for every 211 people in remote areas to one bed for every 366 people in metropolitan areas.
About 68% of hospital patients were treated in public hospitals during 1997-98, compared with 72% in 1993-94.
Less than one in 10 public hospital patients were private patients, compared to one in six in 1993-94.
In 1997-98 people aged over 65 comprised 12% of the total population, but accounted for 31% of total hospital separations, and 46% of patient days.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were reported to have almost twice the separation rate of the overall Australian population, 86% higher, after allowing for age structure (although the quality of Indigenous identification is not yet acceptable).